TACOMA — The pregame tip-off has yet to be delivered because the Class 4A girls basketball state championship is still hours away on Saturday night. But Camas women’s basketball coach Scott Thompson knows a similar message will be heard throughout the year when the tip-off takes place in the Tacoma Dome.
“Ultimately,” he said, “when the pressure is on, we’re going to be at our best because that’s what they do.”
And to get there, the Papermakers beat a Tahoma team they’ve beaten twice this season. This time, it was a 57-47 victory Friday night in the state semifinals.
Already playing in the state semifinals, Camas (24-3) has reached a place no other women’s basketball team has reached in program history. And this year, the Papermakers took another step forward by reaching their first state title game. They will face Eastlake, which beat Kamiakin 64-53 in Friday’s semifinal, at 7 p.m., Saturday.
In fact, Camas was Eastlake’s first opponent in the 2022-23 season. Camas won on the road, 64-52.
“Defense wins championships,” junior Parker Mairs said. “That’s what (Saturday) is all about, so we’ve got to step it up.”
To reach the state championship game, Camas led Woodinville, the tournament’s top seed and defending champion, on Thursday before leading the Bears for the third time. In both games this week, Thompson praised his team’s grit and determination.
In previous meetings between Camas and Tahoma, Camas won convincingly. First a 73-53 win on Jan. 16 and most recently a 60-31 win in the bi-district title game nearly two weeks ago.
Perhaps that’s no surprise, as both teams knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses on Friday. Camas players said they felt the two previous meetings against Tahoma gave them an edge.
“We know each other so much,” sophomore Sophie Buzzard said. “We know who guards each person well. We know their strengths. We know who to lock up, and it’s good for us.”
The third round on Friday was far from easy. Camas had a 23-13 halftime advantage that seemed bigger given their first-half outside shooting (7-of-11), while Tahoma was held to 13.6 percent shooting (3-of-22).
But behind Hope Hussman (15 points) and Lauryn Frederickson (13), Tahoma quadrupled their first-half field goals and cut Camas’ lead to six twice. At one point, the Papermakers’ lead was just 47-41 with 2:57 left in the fourth quarter.
Free throws steal it. Camas made 15 of 21, including all but two of his free throws. For consecutive games, the Papermakers have been paced offensively. Four players reached double figures, with Riley Suns scoring 13 points, followed by Buzzard, Addison Harris and Kierra Thompson with 12 each. Kendall Mairs and Reagan Jamison also reached double figures in rebounds as Camas outrebounded Tahoma, 48-29.
What makes them believe in what they can achieve on Saturday starts with one of the strengths that got them to this point.
“We’re all so supportive of each other,” Myers said. “There’s so much joy and happiness … that’s where our heads are.”
COMAS 57, TAHOMA 47
TAHOMA — Brooke Dejak 2, Hope Hassman 15, Bailey Nettleton 0, Gracyn Meyer 0, Lauryn Frederickson 13, Kate Wooten 0, Lily Cavanaugh 7, Angelina Kavanagh 3, Eddie Hansen 0, Amelie Sitterud 7. Totals 15 (2) 1- 2 47.
CAMAS — Reagan Jamieson 1, Kendall Maiers 4, Riley Sanz 13, Sophie Buzzard 13, Parker Mairs 3, Kendall Batchelder 0, Martha Biazzola 0, Addison Harris 12, Kyra Tepmoson 12. Score 17 (8) 15-21 57.
Tahoma 8 5 16 18 – 47
Kamas 13 10 19 15 – 57